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Burlington County  |  Camden County  |  Gloucester County
`Matthew's Miles' walk will be Oct. 8

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Courier-Post Staff
Andrea Passarella started "Matthew's Miles - A Walk for a Brain Tumor Cure" to raise money for research in 2003, two years after her 7-year-old son was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor on his brain stem.

In its first two years, the annual 2-mile walk and memorabilia auction at the Logan Township Recreational Park raised $45,000 for the American Brain Tumor Association.

While planning the third walk, which is set for Oct. 8, the Passarellas suffered a setback but also learned Matthew would be honored through a fellowship presented by the association.

Matthew's condition had been stable after part of the tumor was removed following his diagnosis in January 2001. But this past spring, doctors discovered the remnant tumor had grown.

In June, Matthew, now 11, underwent his second surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to remove an additional portion of the tumor.

Shortly before his surgery, the Passarellas learned the American Brain Tumor Association was awarding a two-year, $70,000 research fellowship in Matthew's name.

"We do like to give each (fellowship) in the name of someone who is special to the association," Executive Director Naomi Berkowitz said. "Andrea has worked very, very hard in putting together Matthew's Miles, so it was a natural for us to select Matthew."

The fellowship went to Dr. Xing Fan at Johns Hopkins University, who is studying a technique to prevent pediatric brain-tumor growth. Any research published or presented by Fan during the two-year fellowship will bear the attribution: Matthew Passarella/American Brain Tumor Association Fellowship.

"It feels good to do this work, raising money for a cause that's important and to have that recognized in a way that's important to us: (working toward) a cure," Andrea Passarella said.

For Matthew, the significance of the fellowship hasn't quite sunk in, his mother said. But he's beginning to understand the importance of raising money to help find a cure.

Roughly 190,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with brain tumors this year - including 3,140 people under age 20 - according to the American Brain Tumor Association, which is based in Des Plaines, Ill.

Brain tumors are the second-leading cause, behind leukemia, of cancer-related deaths in children under 20, according to the association.

Matthew, who will enter sixth grade at Logan Elementary School in September, has recurring weakness on his right side, his mother said. But he stays active by swimming and playing the saxophone.

Andrea Passarella and her husband, Jack, have two other children: Luke, 8, and Emma, 4.

While the Passarellas plan to continue the walk as an annual event, they're praying Matthew's tumor stays in remission.

"We'll just keep on waiting and hoping," Andrea Passarella said, "that this time it doesn't grow."

Reach Tim Zatzariny Jr. at (856) 251-3341 or


  • The third annual Matthew's Miles - A Walk for a Brain Tumor Cure is set for Oct. 8. For more information, visit, e-mail or call (856) 467-9426.

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